Serving

INTRODUCTION

Serving starts the Play. Serving is a very unique skill in Beach Volleyball because:

  • How to Serve - Part I of III - Introductionno one else contacts the ball before the server
  • the server doesn’t have to rely on anyone else
  • the server has full control of the ball before they contact it.

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The quality of the serve is a major factor in whether or not your team has a realistic chance of earning the point for each play.

The location of the serve is far more important than the speed of the serve.

Consistent serving takes focused attention on the exact thoughts and movements needed to perform the skill of serving. The goal of the serve is to create a poor serve receive pass, which then most likely will create a difficult ball to set and attack.

A major part of creating a poor serve receive pass is to force the passer to move at minimum of 1 large step to get to the ball.

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Melody Benhamou (FRA) reaches high and focuses on the Mikasa
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Joshua Slack (AUS) spike serves
GOOD TO KNOW

The location of the serve is far more important than the speed of the serve.

WHERE TO SERVE THE BALL

TARGET AREAS

The target areas for where to serve the ball are:

  • Less than 60 cm / 2’ from the side lines
  • Less than 60 cm / 2’ from the end line
  • Within 2 m / 6.5’ of the net
  • Within a 1 m / 3’ wide area down the center of the court between the net to the back line

A slower moving serve that is not traveling in a straight line and makes the serve receiver move at least 1 large step IS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO PASS than a fast moving serve that is traveling in a straight line directly at the serve receiver.

GOOD TO KNOW

Serves that cross the net less than 30 cm / 12” above the net are generally the most effective.

TYPES OF SERVES:

There are the following types of serves:

  • Spike Serve or Jump Serve
  • Standing Float
  • Jump Float
  • Underhand – (rarely used in competition)
  • Sky-ball – underhand – (rarely used in competition)
GOOD TO KNOW

Serving the ball out wide or long is not desired but far better than serving the ball into the net.

WHERE TO SERVE THE BALL FROM

The server can stand anywhere along the back line.

The best locations to start the serve along the back line are at either of the 2 corners or directly in the middle – the wind direction and personal preferences dictate where to start your serve.

GOOD TO KNOW

Use the direction the wind is blowing as a key strategy for how and where to serve the ball.

HOW TO CONTACT THE BALL

GOOD TO KNOW

The ball needs to be contacted within 5 seconds of the whistle sounding.

fig2-500-244

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Kathrine Maaseide (NOR) spike serves making contact with the Mikasa high above her head
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Dennis Deroey (BEL) keeps his elbow high before making contact with the Mikasa

HOW TO FLOAT SERVE

How to Serve - Part II of III - Float & Jump ServeSTEP 1: Start with one foot forward, one foot back, your front foot will be about 15 cm / 6” behind the end line – if you are right handed, start with your left foot forward; if left -handed, start with your right foot forward.

STEP 2: Put the ball in the palm of your non-hitting hand, outstretched in front of you at shoulder height.

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Andrea Gonzalo (SPN) focuses on the ball before a float serve

If you are right handed, your hitting hand is even with and slightly above your right ear, your right elbow is at shoulder height – if left-handed, visa versa.

STEP 3: Toss the ball up without any spin, approximately 60 cm / 24” straight up or in a slight arc toward yourself – do not toss the ball up too high, out in front of you, or put unnecessary spin on it.

Practicing the toss without attacking the ball is very important – this allows you to develop a consistent motion and rhythm in contacting the ball.

STEP 4: Step forward with your back foot as you are making contact with the ball – by doing this you will use your entire body to direct the ball rather than just your arm and hand.

Using your entire body in a controlled manner throughout the serving motion allows you to consistently control the direction of the ball – there is no consistency to the direction the ball travels if only the arm is used during the serving motion.

STEP 5: Contact the ball at approximately the same level as the top of your head, with the palm of your open hand/ fingers spread apart – do not turn or snap your wrist over.
Make sure the palm of your hand moves in and remains in the exact direction of your target location.

HOW TO JUMP FLOAT SERVE

STEP 1: Start about 1 m / 3’ behind the end line, one foot in front of the other.

STEP 2: With 2 hands on the ball, toss the ball up without any spin, approximately 1 m / 39” high but slightly in front of you.

STEP 3: When your back foot lands on the sand as you are stepping forward to make contact with the ball, lightly jump forward.

Contact the ball at either the same level as the top of your head or slightly above your head with the palm of your open hand/ fingers spread apart – do not turn or snap your wrist over. Make sure the palm of your hand moves in and remains in the exact direction of your target location.

The best float serves have little to no spin on them as they travel through the air – they can move up and down and from side to side making them very difficult to get into position to pass – attempting to pass a good float serve is similar to attempting to catch a feather blowing in the wind.

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Linyin Xu (CHN) Spike serves

HOW TO SPIKE SERVE

The Spike serve involves a much higher toss than the float serve – the toss is approximately 2 to 3 m / 6.5 – 10’ above your head and at least 2 m / 6.5’ in front of you. The toss can be made with either hand or with both hands – it all depends on your preferences. The ball spins when being tossed for a spike serve.

Practicing the toss without attacking the ball is very important – this allows you to develop a consistent approach and rhythm in contacting the ball.
The approach for a spike serve is very much like the 2 step approach when attacking the ball when you are being set by your partner.

STEP 1: Take one step forward and lunge forward off that foot, land on 2 feet in a crouched position with both arms behind you

Please Note: The 2 major differences between the spike serve approach and the attack approach are:

  • The depth of your crouch when you land on both feet during the spike serve approach - you don’t have time to get into as deep of a crouch as you do when being set - so modify the depth of the crouch.
  • The direction of the jump: Jump FORWARD when attacking the ball during a spike serve and land inside the court rather than jumping almost straight up when attacking a set ball.

STEP 2: Keep your eyes on the ball throughout the entire motion, see your hand make contact with the ball;

STEP 3: Drive up with both arms when jumping,

STEP 4: Reach above your head with both hands while twisting your shoulders,

STEP 5: Keep the elbow of your hitting arm above the level of your ear.

STEP 6: Contact the ball as high above your head as possible,

STEP 7: Snap your wrist as you are making contact with the ball in the direction you want the serve to go in.

Do not touch or go under the back line before you make contact with the ball – after you make contact with the ball it is not a foul to touch the line.

It is not a foul to touch inside the court after making contact with the ball or to make contact with the ball inside the court if your feet are not touching the sand inside the court.

SERVE ROUTINE

How to Serve - Part III of III – Habits and Key PointsCreate a specific routine to follow every time you serve, just as a golfer does before hitting the ball or a basketball player does before attempting a free throw.

  • No matter what just happened or what the circumstances are - Calm your mind. Let go of ALL the emotions and thoughts from the last play.
  • Focus on the next play.
  • Decide on the defensive strategy and blocking instructions – understand your responsibilities.
  • Pick the exact location where you want the serve to go / where you want to make the other team move to attempt to pass your serve.
  • After the whistle blows go into your serving motion and focus only on the ball – see your hand make contact with the ball.
  • If you are the server and blocker - after contacting the ball – sprint to the net so you are balanced and at the net before the other teams setter makes contact with the ball.
  • If you are the server and back-court defender - after contacting the ball – get balanced and into your initial defensive location before the other teams setter makes contact with the ball.
GOOD TO KNOW

There is only one attempt allowed to serve – you cannot catch the toss.

GOOD TO KNOW

Your foot cannot touch or go under the back line before contacting the ball.

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Julius Brink (GER) shows a variation of the Jump Float serve
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Rimke Braakman (NED) keeping her elbow high and her eyes on the Mikasa
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